SACRAMENTO – On October 7, 2021, Assembly Bill 1103 (AB 1103) by Assemblywoman Megan Dahle (R-Bieber) was signed by Governor Newsom. Earlier this year, AB 1103 passed out of the California Assembly Agriculture Committee on a vote of 9-0 in support of the bill. The legislation creates a standardized training and framework for an agricultural pass program (Ag Pass).
When wildfires threaten commercial farming and ranching operations, road closures often prevent ranchers from doctoring their animals, providing them essential water and feed, or evacuating them.
While emergency responders and volunteer groups can assist in rescuing household pets and a few large animals, they lack the ranchers’ expertise necessary to handle large numbers of cattle or other livestock.
Counties such as Ventura and Santa Barbara have begun developing Ag Pass programs which train farmers and ranchers in emergency response and identify those trained agriculturalists to emergency personnel. Unfortunately, Ag Pass programs are not widespread in California, in part because of the significant effort required for a county to implement the program.
“AB 1103 is the solution, and will require the State Fire Marshal to establish a statewide framework and training for an Ag Pass Program covering fire behavior and emergency response,” said Dahle.
“The bill also requires emergency response and law enforcement to provide access to an Ag Pass holder, except in certain specified circumstances, much as press pass holders are currently able to access restricted areas during an emergency.”
Sponsored by the California Cattlemen’s Association, AB 1103 will go into effect January 1, 2022, with a deadline of January 1, 2023 for the program’s curriculum to be developed by the State Fire Marshal. If you are interested in following the progress of AB 1103’s implementation, sign up for email updates from our team at ad01.asmrc.org/.
Assemblywoman Megan Dahle represents the 1st Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes portions of Butte and Placer counties, along with Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, and Siskiyou counties.